Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Here we are, in the middle of another heatwave, and my First Edition’s Parnassus book was waiting for me on the front porch this morning. I left the house early to score some parmigiana cheese to make the pesto my August basil is telling me it’s time to make.

The book of the month is, “Chance’s Are…” by Richard Russo. He is a Pulitzer Prize winner, so I couldn’t wait to dig in; there’s always tomorrow for pesto…

Three 60-something-guy-friends are meeting up on the Vineyard and we flashback to 1969, when they were seniors in college and gathered around a TV to hear their draft numbers announced – like me standing in a deli line waiting for my number. Not. Not like that AT ALL. It’s hard, as a woman today, to imagine the gravitas of that first draft call for our young men in December of ’69. I know that some of my friends had to go to Viet Nam:

Who wouldn’t want to go to Southeast Asia and be shot dead in a jungle?

Some, like my brother Dr Jim, accepted his fate and enlisted; he went to OCS just to get it over with. My step-brother Dr Eric became a med-evac helicopter pilot, cause he told the Army he wasn’t about to shoot people; some friends were deferred for good and sometimes sketchy reasons, and some of them did a walk-around, like Lyle. He ended up training bomb-sniffing dogs in the states. I don’t know how that happened and unfortunately Lyle died last year in Vietnam, so I guess we’ll never know.

My starter marriage husband joined ROTC in 1969 at Harvard Law School. It was supposed to transition him into the National Guard, but that never happened. Clerical error?

Bob got a low number, but fortunately had well-documented asthma as a kid. Even today, if I get a bronchitis, he gets pneumonia. The Bride and the L’il Pumpkin unfortunately have inherited his reactive airway disease, which has been pretty scary in the middle of the night. Great Grandma Ada reminds us that asthma will keep our little Grandbaby Boy safe, always. I try not to think it can also kill you.

In the wake of Woodstock nostalgia, which Gma Ada made Bob retell again this past weekend, I find myself feeling adrift. The Big Chill group did a Face Time chat on the day of their arrival in a re-purposed school bus. Bobby, Dickie, Jeff and friends. They were heading into the unknown of a prolonged camping trip with music, mud and acid; while i was heading into a marriage in Cambridge, MA I thought would save me. A nice Catholic boy. Mea Culpa.

Bob’s been sounding wistful. Long before cell phones, how did he ever find Albie in the newspaper taxi on the road to Yasgur’s Farm?

I’ve been wondering what the hell was happening in 1969? We landed on the moon. We went to a concert about Peace and Love in a field. And we started a draft to send our best and brightest off to be slaughtered. What a country.

But even earlier, we imported slaves to our shores and killed Native Americans with impunity. 400 years ago, in 1619, twenty Africans came to Jamestown, Virginia in chains. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

And today a New York City cop was fired, finally, for killing an African American man selling cigarettes on the street in Staten Island. Despite clear video of the man in a choke-hold saying, “I can’t breathe,” it only took five years and a social movement to convince the police chief that Eric Garner didn’t need to die. Anyone wondering why we need a Black Lives Matter revolution should read last Sunday’s Times. And vote for Bernie!

I’m not sure who I’m voting for yet, but my fear is that Mr T, President “Bone Spur,” may try to slide us into another war, you know, for his numbers. His polls are dropping. And with him, it’s all about the numbers, the size of the crowd. Dr Freud would know exactly what that’s about!

Here is the school bus and the newspaper taxi 50 years ago. Did you know where your children were?

 

Silent Night

It was almost 2 am, my mind was a jumble of raw nerve endings. I tried to concentrate on my breath, to meditate my way back to sleep, but I ended up instead tracing the alphabet with my feet. Ankle exercises can be comforting. Then it suddenly got very dark. tomb-like-dark. And it was quiet, no house humming quiet. I wondered if it was just that Bob’s phone stopped lighting up. He had returned from a trip to FL, visiting his brother. But the alarm clock was black; our power was out.

Today it’s supposed to creep up toward 100 degrees, one of the hottest days of the year.

So what did I do? I woke Bob of course, after all maybe it was just a fuse that needed to switch. But it was the whole street, all the street lamps were out, thousands of people without power.

Are you a midnight wanderer? Do you raid the refrigerator at night, or watch TV when you can’t sleep? I’m a Reader with a capital R. So after 2 hours of mingling our feet and talking by flashlight, commiserating about our old whole house generator in the mountains, when the power finally came back on I picked up a National Geographic magazine about Migration.

It was like a crash course in “How Not to be a White Supremacist!” Because 1) tracing DNA has become so affordable, and 2) some tiny, miniscule bone in our inner ear that is the most dense bone in our body has been storing all of our primitive ancestors’ secrets since the Ice Age, therefore 3) anthropologists have been able to trace the Three Great Human Migrations!

“Who Were the First Europeans?” by Andrew Curry is in this month’s issue A WORLD ON THE MOVE. “Europeans living today, in whatever country, are a varying mix of ancient bloodlines hailing from Africa, the Middle East, and the Russian Steppe.” In other words neo-Nazis, get over yourselves and your replacement theory. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/07/first-europeans-immigrants-genetic-testing-feature/

We are all descendants of farmers who tolerated nomads (hunter/gatherers) and then rode horses across continents as plague almost decimated our species. That’s a pretty small nutshell, but some people were dark with green eyes, and some were light with brown eyes and somehow we managed to survive, together. Last night:

I was worrying about the Love Bug who starts 2nd Grade today. We spent the afternoon together and she had a fever, an ear infection, would her parents send her to school?

I was worrying about Great Grandma Ada, because she worries about me all the time so I thought I’d return the favor.

I was worrying about children separated from their parents because I was separated from my Mother the Flapper when I was 10 months old.

This morning I was surprised by how low the Trump administration could go, though I really shouldn’t have been. He is changing the rules and regulations for LEGAL immigrants to obtain a green card, making it more difficult to obtain visas or become citizens. Why you may ask? If a person has relied on any form of public assistance for more than ONE year, they will be invited to leave! The article was hiding inside the BBC News website. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49323610

This bears repeating – LEGAL Immigrants who do not meet the GOP’s rules of “self-sufficiency” will be deported. So legal immigrants working part-time at Walmart will have to go if they rely on food aid or public housing….

I didn’t go to this year’s East Nashville Tomato Festival because Bob wasn’t here, but also because I’m becoming afraid of crowds. What keeps you up in the middle of the night?

IMG_6108

 

 

It’s been a helluva week, played out on the national stage but also on our Music City stage. The body of Debra Johnson was transported back to her home in Nashville yesterday; she was the warden of the state penitentiary, who was raped and murdered in her house on the prison grounds. The manhunt for her killer, Curtis Ray Watson, has been all over the local news for 4 days. He was last seen riding a tractor in her yard – it was a minimum security place and he supposedly had “privileges.”

Only in Tennessee would the getaway vehicle be a tractor.

Since Bob’s been traveling, I’ve been extra cautious walking the dog at night. Our little farmhouse sits on the outskirts of the main drag, away from restaurants and nightlife. But it’s not just wondering where Watson could be hiding, I’ve had some serious social media threats since I posted something about how we might try regulating guns the way our government likes to regulate a woman’s body. Silly, sarcastic me.

IMG_6073

I’ve since been told this was not a Steinem quote, but it should have been! This does not seem like a time to sit on the fence. You are either OK with our country’s fascination with weapons of war, with young white men (for the most part, cause just let a black or a brown guy try that shit) being able to carry these guns all around town showing off their “manhood,” with separating families at our border, keeping people in cages, and raiding their workplace leaving their children waiting at school, wondering if they will ever see them again.

You are either OK with this, or you are not. Silence and indifference is not an option either.

The Bride sent me an article about how more than half of the mass murderers we’ve seen since we started tracking them back in 1966 have basically 2 things in common. You know what the first is – GUNS. But can you guess the second? It’s a hatred, a vile hatred of women. Yessir, misogyny rears its ugly head. “A Common Trait Among Mass Killers: Hatred Toward Women,” by Bosman, Taylor, and Arango.

“The motivations of men who commit mass shootings are often muddled, complex or unknown. But one common thread that connects many of them — other than access to powerful firearms — is a history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members, or sharing misogynistic views online”

My good friend Bess told me that very thing last year while we were in Italy. She works at a shelter for abused women, and she personally understands how and why a woman might end up fleeing a relationship and fighting for her life.

We both went off to Boston for college in 1966, but she ended up in a cult. The man who persuaded her to sell newspapers on the street eventually ended up controlling every aspect of her life. Bess was my hero in high school, she was the smartest girl in our gang. I never understood how this had happened to her until we talked one night in Tuscany.

Her daughter Gwen is a talented screenwriter who was returned to her mother after Bess finally fled the cult, at first resenting being separated from the only family she had ever known. Gwen’s movie, “Charlie Says,” about the Manson girls, was released this Spring: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1759744/

Gwen wrote about growing up in a cult for the New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/05/06/my-childhood-in-a-cult

“Where are you from?” For most people, this is a casual social question. For me, it’s an exceptionally loaded one, and demands either a lie or my glossing over facts, because the real answer goes something like this: “I grew up on compounds in Kansas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Martha’s Vineyard, often travelling in five-vehicle caravans across the country from one location to the next. My reality included LSD, government cheese, and a repurposed school bus with the words ‘Venus or Bust’ painted on both sides.” And that, while completely factual, is hard to believe, and sounds like a cry for attention. So I usually just say, “Upstate New York.”

In the spirit of peace and love, and the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, I’d just like to say if you didn’t live through the 60s you may not understand. We young people were embittered and embattled by an unjust war, our leaders were being mowed down by guns, and the second wave of feminism was just getting started. Some of us burned our bras and got birth control. While some of us were trying hard just to tread water while not making any waves.

Guess what?! They caught Curtis Watson today. He was hiding out in Henning, TN near the prison. When the Senate is back in session and they want to talk about anything other than an assault weapon ban, let’s pressure them to talk about red flag laws, and in particular guys who have been arrested or dishonorably discharged because of domestic abuse. “Federal law prohibits people convicted of certain domestic violence crimes, and some abusers who are subject to protective orders, from buying or owning guns. BUT there are many loopholes, and women in relationships who are not married to, do not live with, or have children with their abusers receive no protection. Federal law also does not provide a mechanism for actually removing guns from abusers.” 

Loopholes like the one in the Sutherland Springs massacre, where the Air Force didn’t report the shooter’s domestic violence history. Please read this article, it is eye-opening.

 

Imagine

Last night was a magical, musical night. It started with a moment of silence for the victims in El Paso and Dayton. Someone in the crowd – all Democrats there to support our Rabbi’s husband, James Mackler for Senate, a young lawyer and ex-fighter pilot – yelled out, “Don’t forget California!” The Garlic Festival in Gilroy the weekend before, do you remember?

Singer songwriter Mary Gauthier started off the evening talking about working with the wives and girlfriends of our enlisted men, the families left behind when they are sent off to fight overseas. They don’t wait by the phone, they take over and carry the emotional weight of their loved one’s service. Her lyrics brought tears to my eyes:

“Who’s gonna care for the ones who care for the ones who went to war
Land mines in the living room eggshells on the floor
I lost myself in the shadow of your honor and your pain
You stare out the window as our dreams go down the drain
Invisible, the war after the war”

It was an Air Force Veteran, a man who had a history of abusing his wife, who opened
fire at a church only a year and a half ago in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Remember him, he was chased down by a passer-by in his car before shooting himself. A pregnant woman died in the carnage, along with several children. He killed 26 people in total before turning the AR-556 on himself.

Sutherland Springs still holds the gruesome record for mass shootings in Texas; the death toll has risen from 19 to 22 in El Paso.

Emmy Lou Harris took the stage and talked about her Father, who had enlisted after Pearl Harbor. He was one of the lucky ones who came home from WWII, married his sweetheart and shielded his family from the real cost of service to our country. The wounded warriors who carry on, working and raising a family, who never pick up a gun again.

“EmmaLou” started off by joining Mary in the chorus to “Mercy Now.” Years ago in a TED lecture Mary said: “Trauma goes deeper than words, but music can get into those places.” 

Yesterday Mr T said, “”Mental illness and hate pull the trigger, not the gun.” I read about his words because I cannot bear to listen to him speak. Instead I walked the Grand Dogs. But really Mr President? Do you think we have more mental illness in this country than say France or Britain or Australia? Do we have more hate?? The charts in this BBC article will help: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081

GUNS kill people Mr President, and we ALL have to admit we have a problem before we can fix it! You must think the American people are stupid! Let’s take the Senate and start with that background check bill languishing at Mitch’s feet. Let’s ban assault rifles, nobody would shoot a deer with one of those things. We may have reached a tipping point.

EmmaLou ended the evening with John Lennon’s, “Imagine.” Let’s start dreaming we can fix this gun-drenched nightmare once and for all. And let’s get to work registering new voters!

_108213007_us_shootings_comparisons_640_v2-nc

19 DEAD

At a Mall in Texas. At a Garlic Festival in California. One after another, mass shootings have become a national pastime, like watching a white Bronco. It is inevitable in a country swimming with guns, more guns than we have people. Do we ask if it is depression, a mental illness, when our young people overdose on opiates?

RFK’s grand daughter’s overdose is being treated this way, better to have a disease than an overabundance of drugs and guns. Is it simply a, OUR mental health problem? REALLY? Think about this please people. It’s the GUNS stupid.

I heard that in our country, 30% of mass shootings end up dead. 30% are killed on the spot with our amazing assault weapons that are designed to do the most damage in the shortest amount of time. 30% end up in an ER, and are discharged with minor injuries. Thank you to my husband and my daughter for being on the front lines.

The rest, 40% are left with disabling, chronic injuries. They must have multiple surgeries and end up with chronic conditions. Some are in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. 40 people in El Paso have survived the mass shooting today, but their lives have been forever changed.

Remember to VOTE next year as if your lives depend on it. We are the only country with this public health menace, with elected officials who take money from the NRA and send thoughts and prayers to the survivors. It’s time to wake up America. Gun violence is our number one priority,

Nana Camp is continuing this weekend with our Grand Dogs.

4A7416CD-5F02-444C-835D-B57333F3AC75

Who’d ever think these 2 old hippies (the name of a great store in the Gulch btw) would transplant themselves so seamlessly further south and inland to Tennessee? Despite the lack of a beach, Bob and I are continually amazed by the welcoming people, gastronomic delights, and literary events.

Just this past weekend our streets were closed to traffic so people could stroll through Germantown to the Buchanan Arts District – “We have everyone walking, biking and dancing,” said Nora Kern, the executive director of Walk Bike Nashville, “whatever they want to do in the street, they can do it.”

Whoops, did I forget the music?

Tonight I’ll be visiting my favorite bookstore in Green Hills to hear the author of “My Sister the Serial Killer” talk with the author Ann Patchett. An immigrant to the UK via Nigeria, Oyinkyn Braithwaite’s debut novel has been longlisted for the Booker Prize! When one sister is a nurse and the other becomes rather murderous, chaos and charm commence!

There’s a seditious pleasure in its momentum. At a time when there are such wholesome and dull claims on fiction — on its duty to ennoble or train us in empathy — there’s a relief in encountering a novel faithful to art’s first imperative: to catch and keep our attention” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/books/review-my-sister-serial-killer-oyinkan-braithwaite.html

I’ve finished “City of Girls” and am on to “Mostly Dead Things.” For all my book loving readers, may I invite you to follow Parnassus Bookstore’s blog “Musing” about books, https://parnassusmusing.net/

And if you missed this little headline recently, this tidbit of local Nashville news, you could be forgiven. It happened in Hermitage – a group of neighbors surrounded a car during our deadly heatwave to provide gas, water and food for hours to the father and 12 year old son inside; they were being badgered and interrogated by ICE agents who came to collect them with the wrong warrant!

These same neighbors formed a human chain for them, so they could return to their home where the ICE agents were not allowed to enter or evict them! https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/07/22/nashville-neighborhood-responds-ice-agents/1796453001/

Is this not humanity’s first imperative? A tenet of Christian teaching, to help your neighbor? To be empathetic? Certainly not to separate families and then “bear false witness,” by denying our government is creating concentration camps at our border. I was separated from my family at the age of ten months, not by ICE but by a set of circumstances culminating in an automobile accident on the Fourth of July 1949.

My foster parents were my parents’ neighbors and friends. They surrounded me with unconditional love and acceptance. The children lucky enough to have been reunited with their parents today are still suffering mental anguish. They have become detached as a response, and show high levels of anxiety and depression. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/31/us/migrant-children-separation-anxiety.html

Mr T’s America is not my America.

My America embraces the refugee; it doesn’t send youth ministries to Latin America on “Mission Trips,” only to reject refugee children trying to cross our border for a better life. My America empowers women to make their own reproductive health care decisions; it doesn’t pass TRAP laws “protecting” a fetus they have NO intention of helping once it is born into poverty. My America passed an assault weapon ban once; it does not turn its back on children being gunned down at street fairs and in schools.

Our cousins were visiting from NY, here is our family at Nashville’s Farmer’s Market. Should I have been thinking of a fast exit, just in case a shooter walked in? Which two of us would push the wheelchairs, who would carry a child?

54485C9F-C8F6-4A7A-865D-94272F3B46D7

Smoke Screens

Anyone else think the new PM of Britain looks familiar? That tousled mop of reddish-blonde hair, the arrogant swagger and pouty mouth of a blowfish. Indeed, Boris Johnson, the newly elected British Prime Minister, is following in the footsteps of our own Mr T in trying to take his people backward, maybe in a Tardis?

Today, while we are watching and hoping for a miracle that will never come as Mueller addresses Congress, Theresa May will resign to the Queen. In a last ditch effort to redeem her Brexit/Exit, the ex-PM has passed a health document into her last days at Downing Street. She wants to reduce the number of years her fellow country people spend in poor health – namely:

‘The government is pledging to end smoking in England by 2030 as part of a range of measures to tackle the causes of preventable ill health.”

You might wonder who’s still smoking, but walk into any public building and you must hold your breath to navigate the sidewalk through cigarette smoke. We can ban smoking in restaurants, and try to tax it away, but it seems that 14% of adults still smoke in England…. and in America it’s 15%, or about 40 million people!

And that’s not taking into account the upswing in underage, teenage smoking – not the old fashioned, combustible type of cigarettes mind you.

Teens are using e-cigarettes at record levels: “America’s teens report a dramatic increase in their use of vaping devices in just a single year, with 37.3 percent of 12th graders reporting “any vaping” in the past 12 months, compared to just 27.8 percent in 2017. ” https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2018/12/teens-using-vaping-devices-in-record-numbers

A 10% jump in just one year, I wonder if 2019 will follow suit? Commonly called Juuling, after the brand name “Juul” that sells their vaping device as an upscale alternative to tobacco, vaping contains the same amount or more of nicotine along with some carcinogens wrapped up in a pretty, pen-like, battery charged package. I know because my sister’s nurse told us all about it. And now nearly 40% of our kids are trying them out, thinking they are vaping a “flavor” and not necessarily knowing they are becoming addicted to nicotine.

My whole family smoked cigarettes. In fact I’m pretty sure I NEVER smoked one cigarette because I always felt it was impossible to breathe in their vicinity. I hated the smell, the dirty ashtrays, the feeling of superiority my older siblings coveted as they puffed away. I would sit alone in the front of an airplane back when airlines allowed smokers to sit in the back; way back there, where my sister Kay and brother Mike were having fun. “Smokin and jokin.”

Vaping is not without its drawbacks – a man has had the battery explode in his face. It has caused “wet lung” and countless other maladies along with addiction to nicotine. According to the doctors in my family, it will most certainly be banned in the near future because of its marketing to children with flavors like fruit medley and cool mint.

The threat of COPD, cancer and emphysema are hazy outcomes when you’re a teen. You want to look cool, I guess that’s the top priority. Huffing on a flash drive doesn’t look very cool to me though.

And second-hand vaping is real y’all! “…vaping worsened indoor air quality, specifically by increasing the concentration of nicotine, particulate matter, PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and aluminum — compounds that have been linked to lung and cardiovascular disease and cancer among other health effects.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/e-cigs-and-second-hand-vaping/

At one point while I was in NYC, I was surrounded by 3 vapers. They were adults who either thought this was a more acceptable way to smoke, or maybe they thought they were saving money? I just couldn’t wait to breath some clean, fresh, hot, city air.

The race is on. Will England be the first to win the prize of eradicating this public health enemy? Or will we look across the pond next year with a newly elected progressive president ready to tackle climate change and give us universal healthcare? Banning weapons of war along with e-ciggies?

The ball is in your court Mr Mueller! This is what the L’il Pumpkin thinks of smoking.

IMG_5911

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: